The Box with Pearl Inlay
By Roy Dorman
Johnny Simpson was nervous about being down by the loading
docks alone after midnight. He kept his .38 leveled at the old man behind the
“Did ya ever notice whenever there’s somethin’ valuable and
it’s in one of these fancy boxes, turns out it’s dangerous too?” Johnny asked,
licking his lips. “I seen that in the movies lotsa times.”
The old man smiled thinly at Johnny, having set the box on
the counter. “It’s also that way in books. Maybe art imitates life,” he said,
smiling more broadly.
“Yeah, well, I don’t read no books,” said Johnny, “and I
don’t know nothin’ about art. I’m just doin’ my job.”
“Most of the time in those movies, the character like you
has been told not to look in the box…”
“And they go ahead and do it anyhow. What’s up with that?
Haven’t they ever been to the movies?”
“Maybe they have, but don’t think that life imitates art.”
The old man continued to smile. Johnny wondered how he’d
gotten into this conversation. “Just gimme the box,” he said.
“I could transfer the contents of the box into a paper sack
if it would make you feel more comfortable,” said the old man, sliding the box
over to Johnny.
“I’m supposed to pick up a box.
I don’t know nothin’ about its contents. Now, don’t call the
cops or I’ll come back and kill ya. Me, I think the smart thing to do would be
to kill ya, but my boss said just the box—nobody gets killed.”
Johnny picked up the box and walked backward to the door,
keeping his gun on the old man.
“If he didn’t say anything about looking inside, you could
probably do that,” said the old man.
“Fuck you, old man,” said Johnny, as he backed into the
closed door and jangled the overhead bell. “Fuck you.”
Outside, before the door had closed completely, Johnny
heard the old man laughing. He shuddered. It was a laugh he’d heard at the
movies. Johnny knew after that laugh the person who had been laughed at did
something really dumb in the next scene and paid the price for it. He’d seen
that happen lotsa times.
Roy Dorman, email@example.com, of Madison, WI, who wrote BP #81’s “Nowhere Man in Nowhere Land”
& “The Box with Pearl Inlay” (+ BP
#80’s “Andrew’s War” & “Down at the Hardware Store”; BP #79’s “Cellmates”
& “Get Some Shelter,” BP #78’s “All Is as It Should Be,” BP #77’s “Essence
of Andrew,” BP #76’s “Flirting with the Alley,” BP #75’s “The Enemy of My
Enemy…” BP #74’s “Doesn’t Play Well with Others,” BP #73’s “A Journey Starts
with a Flower,” BP #72’s “The Beach House,” BP #71’s “The Big Apple Bites,” BP
#70’s “Borrowing Some Love” and BP #69’s “Back in Town” and “Finding Good
Help…”), is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office
and has been a voracious reader for 60 years. At the prompting of an old
high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious
writer. He has had poetry and flash fiction published in Apocrypha and Abstractions, Birds Piled
Loosely, Burningword Literary Journal, Cease Cows,
Crack The Spine, Drunk Monkeys, Every Day Fiction,
Flash Fiction Magazine,
Flash Fiction Press, Gap-Toothed
Madness, Gravel, Lake City Lights,
Near To The Knuckle, Shotgun
Honey, The Creativity Webzine, Theme
of Absence, The Screech Owl, The Story
Shack, & Yellow Mama.